It wasn’t that many years ago that the words “Canadian TV” and “hit” would rarely appear in the same sentence, but thanks to the popularity of such series as Flashpoint, Rookie Blue and Corner Gas, the stigma that was once associated with made-in-Canada television has fallen by the wayside.
In early 2012, Global’s Bomb Girls joined this roster of homegrown hits when more than 1.6 million tuned in to watch the series’ premiere. As viewers continued to follow the stories of a group of women working in a Toronto munitions factory during the Second World War, what was originally conceived as a six-episode limited-run miniseries was expanded to a series.
As a result, season two — which debuts on January 2 — has been expanded to 12 episodes. The storyline picks up shortly after the season-one finale, and is set in 1942, soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor led the U.S. to enter the war.
As Bomb Girls co-creator Michael MacLennan points out, 1942 was a dismal year for the Allied forces, losing every major battle and leaving Americans and Canadians to live under the very real threat of an imminent attack on North American soil. “What’s important to remember is that when you’re in 1942, you don’t know the end of the story,” says MacLennan. “You don’t know that we’re going to win.”
This spectre of anxiety hovers over the second season, mirroring the personal uncertainty faced by all the women:
Victory Munitions’ floor matron Lorna Corbett (Oscar-nominee Meg Tilly) finds herself dealing with an unwanted pregnancy due to her dalliance with Marco (Antonio Cuper). When her war-vet husband (Peter Outerbridge) voices his suspicions, Lorna is forced to make a big decision that promises to have far-reaching consequences.
Now that the cat’s out of the bag for socialite-turned-factory-worker Gladys Witham (Jodi Balfour) and her wealthy parents know about her job, she’s forced to strike a bargain with them to become the reluctant face of the family food company, with her father using her bomb-girl status as a PR gimmick that winds up with Gladys’ smiling face peering out from cans of Witham baked beans.
Meanwhile, Vera (Anastasia Phillips) is still recovering, both emotionally and physically, from the factory accident that left her face scarred and mutilated, but realizes she’s unhappy in her new office position and longs to return to the assembly line alongside her friends.
When we last saw Kate (Charlotte Hegele), the shock of learning that Betty (Ali Liebert) was in love with her sent her running back to her abusive, religious-zealot father. Back at the factory, however, Betty receives a shock when Lorna shows her a letter from Kate’s father, accusing Betty of sexual deviancy and “making improper advances” toward his daughter. She tells Lorna it’s a vicious lie, but takes desperate measures to quell suspicions about her sexuality by aggressively pursuing the new guy who’s started working at the plant (Michael Seater). When she eventually tracks down Kate to confront her father, the meeting takes a shocking turn that threatens to turn the lives of both women upside down.
The season premiere is fast-paced and engaging, laying the foundation for a storyline that promises dramatic upheaval for all the women in the episodes to come. In addition, we’ll also see a number of guest stars appearing throughout the season, including ET Canada’s Cheryl Hickey, CBC late-night host George Stroumboulopoulos and Rosie O’Donnell, who’ll appear in episode nine in the top-secret role of a character named Dottie.
To catch up on season one, full episodes are available on the Bomb Girls website, which also features a way-cool virtual tour of the factory, the rooming house and the Witham family estate, including historical information about this time of social and political upheaval in Canada’s history.
Season two of BOMB GIRLS premieres Wednesday, January 2 on Global